Anti-bullying advocate Dan Savage recently told a gathering of 1,800 high school students to “ignore the bullshit in the Bible”. Savage is a columnist and a speaker for the gay community. Savage’s comments came at a conference for students and his forum was about responding to cyber-bullying.
People often point out that they can’t help it. They can’t help with the anti-gay bullying, because it says right there in Leviticus, it says right there in Timothy, it says right there in Romans, that being gay is wrong. We can learn to ignore the bullshit about gay people in the Bible the same way we have learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things. The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document. Slave owners waived Bibles over their heads during the civil war and justified it.
As you see in the video, students who are presumably Christian, walk out in protest of Dan Savage’s comments.
If the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong, slavery, what are the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? 100 percent.
After his rant, Dan Savage welcomed the departed students to come back:
You can tell the Bible guys in the hall they can come back now because I’m done beating up the Bible. It’s funny as someone who is on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-ass some people react when you push back.
First let me say, I’m not going to address whether homosexuality is wrong. or not That isn’t the point of this blog post. So, please don’t start in the comment section. The point of this blog post is to address the hypocrisy of anti-bullying advocate bullying Christians with vulgar insults. I can understand Dan Savage’s frustration with people bullying the gay community but to turn around and bully Bible believing people is hypocritical. It only lessens the work done in addressing the horrible activity of bullying and cyber bullying. Dan Savage, the anti-bully, has become a bully.
Second, it is clear that Dan Savage doesn’t understand some basic contexts of the Bible. Savage used slavery as a way to say that the Bible is irrelevant. If the Bible supports slavery than all the other things we don’t like about the Bible are invalid as well. This is simply not the case. In the Bible, there were two forms of “slavery”: oppressive slavery and servanthood. Oppressive slavery is wrong. God made provision for servanthood and even made laws protecting servants in Exodus 21, Deuteronomy15, and Leviticus 25. Servants were to go free after seven years, people could pay debts with servanthood, servants were to be treated fairly, and not oppressed. In antiquity, many servants enjoyed rights and freedoms that they would not otherwise enjoy. Sometimes, Israel broke these laws and God punished them for such behavior, as per their covenant with God.
Dan Savage makes a classic mistake about biblical interpretation: taking the descriptive as prescriptive in the Bible. Savage believes if the Bible is “wrong” on one issue than it can be wrong on a whole host of issues. However, context is important. It isn’t that the Bible is pro-slavery, but that we modern readers presuppose some facts that just are not there.
In a blog post, Dan Savage apologized for using “pansy-ass.”: [M]y use of ‘pansy-assed’ was insulting, it was name-calling, and it was wrong. And I apologize for saying it.”
There is a clear difference between believing what the Bible states about homosexuality and bullying homosexuals. It’s wrong to bully. No matter what issue we agree or disagree with, we cannot use the Bible as a bashing tool. Jesus encountered countless people who engaged in behavior that violated God’s teaching but he always stayed in relationship with them.
Have some Christians used the Bible to bully? Yes. Is that regrettable? Yes. Have all Christians used the Bible to bully? No.
Dan Savage does some great work educating the public on bullying but he broadly groups Bible believers into one group. Dan Savage, if you paint us Christians and the Bible with a broad brush of intolerance then you are only painting yourself in the same broad strokes of intolerance.